Where were you the day you Googled “john f. kennedy assassination jennifer lawrence” for the first time? With the 50th anniversary only a day away, I found myself down a rabbit hole of second shooters and lizard people last night that both fascinated me and made me want to burn my laptop. The glut of JFK coverage also lead me to recall episodes of TV that dealt with the assassination, and the “NOT too soon” parodies that have became a well-worn trope. Here are eight fictional, or historically tweaked, characters who may have played a part in the deatg of #35.
1. The Smoking Man (The X-Files)
If the classic season four episode “Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man” is true, then the Smoking Man is the most dangerous man in history. He shoots Kennedy, he convinces J. Edgar Hoover to have Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinated, and in his most despicably evil act of all, in 1991, he fixes the Super Bowl so that the Buffalo Bills don’t win. Thing is, Mulder, Scully, and the Lone Gunmen, as well as viewers, aren’t sure how much of this information is real and how much if fake. According to X-Files story editor Frank Spotnitz, “A lot of people didn’t pick up on [the] subtlety. They thought that this was indeed the factual history of the Cigarette Smoking Man. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not. Some of it may indeed be true, and some of it may…well, never mind.”
2. Fidel Castro Dressed as Marilyn Monroe (Strangers with Candy)
I’m just going to quote Strangers with Candy here, because there should be more Strangers with Candy quotes in all posts. “Do a lot of the people die of syphilis?” “Oh, absolutely. Historically, syphilis is right up there with Germans. It wiped out the Romanovs, it decimated our fleet at Pearl Harbor, and of course Fidel Castro impersonated Marilyn Monroe and gave President Kennedy a case of syphilis so severe that eventually it blew the back of his head off.”
3. Time-Traveling JFK (Red Dwarf)
When the crew of the Red Dwarf travels back to 1963 to pick up some Indian food supplies, they accidentally knock Lee Harvey Oswald out of the Book Depository, preventing the murder of President Kennedy. Now, as any fan of television knows, you’re not allowed to tinker with timelines because bad things will happen, and bad things do happen: Kennedy gets impeached, J. Edgar Hoover becomes president, and the USSR installs a nuclear base in Cuba. Uh oh. The Red Dwarf gang’s solution: go to 1965 and convince the disgraced JFK to time-travel and shoot himself, preventing the Reds from taking over and making us eat their disgusting non-Indian food. It works.
4. The Viper (Walker, Texas Ranger)
Of course Walker was in Dallas on November 22, 1963. Of COURSE the second shooter was some guy named the Viper, who years later, tries to kill an Israeli ambassador at a Dallas Cowboys game, for some reason. OF COURSE it’s Walker who kicks-spins-captures the Viper in an episode titled “The Deadliest Man Alive.” No AIDS, though.
5. The dreaded mongoose (Robot Chicken)
The mysterious lives of “nature’s most fascinating beasts” are exposed in Robot Chicken‘s “Secrets of the Animal Kingdom” series, including that of the dangerous mongoose. They may look cute and fuzzy, but they’re actually deadly assassins who not only eat crabs but also take out presidents with snipers. I’m on to you, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.
6. Marge Simpson (The Simpsons)
After a stressed-out Marge mistakenly shoplifts a bottle of bourbon from the Kwik-E-Mart, she’s brought to court. Despite, or possible because of, hiring Lionel Hutz, Marge is found guilty and thrown into jail, thanks to some damning evidence, including a close-up shot of the JFK assassination. As Frink points out, if you look close enough, you can, without a doubt, see Marge’s blue hair. She’s history’s second greatest monster, behind Jimmy Carter.
7. James Stevens (Doctor Who)
The Doctor Who TV series only indirectly mentions JFK, including in “Rose,” where see the Ninth Doctor present at the assassination site, but the story is picked up elsewhere in the Whoverse, including in the book, Who Killed Kennedy? To answer that question: James Stevens, an investigative reporter who does the dirty deed to stop the Master from NOT killing Kennedy, and taking out Oswald instead, which would eventually lead to a nuclear war. Got that? Time travel is the best/worst. Speaking of…
8. Sam Beckett (Quantum Leap)
Sort of. Captain Archer, I mean, Sam Beckett leaps into Lee Harvey Oswald’s body for funsies and also to see whether he acted alone. He did, and Sam struggles to separate himself from Oswald, to the point where he’s still inside his body the day the assassination happens. At the last possible moment, however, Sam leaps out…and into Secret Service Agent Clint Hill, who’s unable to protect JFK, but does save Jackie Kennedy. For you see, in the original timeline, Jackie dies, too. But thanks to Sam, she’s alive, although he could have done more by somehow finding a way to save the president’s life. Then again, time travel. Then again, to quote Abe Simpson’s advice to Homer on his wedding day, “If you ever travel back in time, don’t step on anything.” Point is, don’t step on JFK?
(via Getty Image)